New Delhi, Mar 6: The Amarnath shrine board has asked all pilgrims not to drink alcohol or caffeinated drink andto start physical exercise at least one month prior to the pilgrimage which begins June 29.
In an advisory, the Shrine Board said the pilgrimage to the holy cave involves trekking at altitudes as high as 14,000 feet and the pilgrims may develop high altitude sickness. To avoid high altitude sickness, the Board advised the pilgrims to prepare for physical fitness by starting a preparatory morning/evening walk, about 4-5 km per day, at least a month prior to the pilgrimage.
"Start deep breathing exercise and yoga, particularly pranayam, for improving oxygen efficiency of the body. Do check with your physician prior to travelling to higher elevations, if you have any existing pre-existing medical conditions.
"Do walk slowly while ascending and take time to acclimatise, relax for a short while on steep inclines. Do avoid exerting beyond your normal capacity," the advisory said. "Don't ignore the symptoms of high altitude illness with symptoms like loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, light headedness and difficulty in sleeping, visual impairment, bladder dysfunction.
"Don't drink alcohol, caffeinated drink, or smoke. Don't ascend any further if you have altitude illness. Instead, descend immediately to an elevation where you can acclimatise," it said. The Board said if high altitude sickness is not treated timely, it may be lethal in a matter of hours. "Do take compulsory rest at various locations and ensure time logging and take ideal walking time mentioned on the display boards while moving towards next location.
Do check with your physician prior to taking any medications. Do drink lots of water to combat dehydration and headaches - about 5 liters of fluid per day. "Do follow the prescribed food menu -- available at Shrine Board's website shriamarnathjishrine.com -- when having food in the Yatra area," the advisory, circulated by the Home Ministry, said. The pilgrimage will take place from June 29 to August 7.